July, 2007 Archive

July 3, 2007, 12:03 pm

Fireworks at Grand Rounds!


Independence Day is tomorrow, but you can get a bunch of sparklers today over at Grand Rounds!

Graham put together the definitive collection of medical related posts at Over My Med Body!.

You might be wondering why I chose Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to illustrate the post this week.


Well, I’m a student of American history.

(Translation: I like to read biographies of the old guys)

And I discovered that…

Both Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other on…….

You guessed it!

July 4, 1826!

Ah, I love the smell of historical trivia in the morning!


Susan McNichols has written a thought-provoking post in her Penlight column over at the Nursing Jobs.org blog. Check out “Are Some Patients Better Than Others?“. Well said, Susan!


Well, it looks like Change of Shift wasn’t the only “carnival” to have a birthday this month! Ron Hudson from 2sides2ron reminded me that the International Carnival of the Pozitivities (for patients living with HIV/AIDS, their families, friends and caregivers) was now a year old as is The Ringing of the Bards (a poetry carnival)! Congratulations to all who have made these carnivals successful!



The Nursing Voices Forum is off to a great start! Click on over and join the discussion(s) – when nurses get together it is never dull! Remember to register – you have stories and we want to hear them! Besides, I’m a Super Moderator over there and my super cape is flapping in the wind, ready to assist you! No tights, though. Gotta draw the line somewhere.


Speaking of Change of Shift, the next edition comes back to me and will actually be hosted on the Nursing Jobs. org blog! It’s a great idea that I totally stole from Beth of PixelRN and Nursing Link. Hey, I have no trouble giving credit where it is due or stealing great ideas!

You can use Blog Carnival or the “Contact Me” button at the top of the page. I’ve run into so many new nurse bloggers in the last few weeks – why not use Change of Shift to introduce yourselves to the general nursing blogosphere? Don’t forget, the posts must be by a nurse or nursing related!


Last but definitely not least, don’t forget the nursing forum started by Terry over at Everyday Nurses! Nice interface and great people!

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July 2, 2007, 9:56 pm

One Down, One To Go!


What a weekend!

This is my family with my new son-in-law, Jim.

I’m not sure who the woman is in the red dress.

I weigh at least fifty pounds less than she does.

An imposter, I tell you!


The guy on the far right is my son. He’s getting married in six weeks.

Yep, two in one summer.

I told them both that as soon as they say “I do”, I no longer have to – no more money from mom! Whoo hooo!

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4:33 pm

Body Worlds 3: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made!


This was my favorite.

Maybe because I’m a fan of gymnastics, but I could not get over this pose!

The photo is of a “plastinate” human body.

It’s on display in the Body Worlds 3 exhibit.


I had a few free hours this last weekend, and I decided to take a look at the often controversial anatomy exhibition. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry hosted this event.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants to see real anatomy, in action.


My experience with anatomy and physiology was one class, thirty-one years ago, with one gray, formaldahyde soaked elderly cadaver. My eyes burned from the fumes. I barely touched it. It was gross, ugly and, well…blech!

I was eighteen and had never even been to a funeral.

These bodies are stunningly beautiful. The plastination process maintains the colors of the tissues. There is no odor. By using everyday or active poses, the sense of “dead body” is lifted and replaced by an appreciation of what our bodies are and what they can do. You actually feel “life” in these plastinated bodies.

I’m sure my mouth was open through the entire exhibit. There was so much I did not know or had forgotten over the years. I knew what was there, it was the proportions that astounded me.

  • The only thing standing between us and paralysis is a thin cord of nerves about 1/2 inch wide – the spinal cord. It seemed very fragile when viewed in a display of the nervous system, from brain to periphery.
  • The kidneys are so tiny – and now I understand in three dimensions where they lie in the body. I know why a 3 mm kidney stone causes so much agony as it travels down a ureter with a diameter of 1 mm. The spleen was smaller than I thought it was!
  • The uterus, which looms so large in my imagination, is extremely small. All those period cramps come from that tiny sac? Holy cow! The ovaries? Smaller than walnuts – my daughter’s dermoid cysts were larger than the ovaries they inhabited!
  • Sciatica? Well, that explains it!
  • I not only know about COPD, I saw COPD!
  • Cardiac tamponade? I see how it compresses the heart!
  • Smoking? Take a look at the two lungs that look solid black. You’ll never smoke again.
  • I saw why I can’t pass a catheter through an enlarged prostate.

The bodies are posed. Occasionally, body cavities will be flayed open, or muscles separated. Many of the plastinates are not surrounded by any glass, which means you can get up close and really look at the abdominal cavity, see the diaphram in place, get two inches away from muscles, ligaments, tendons.

The oddest thing happens when you view the plastinate body in an “exploded” view (separated in half, three sections or elongated extremities). Your mind will automatically “pull” the body back together in your mind.

I found myself startled at the beginning, deeply moved and minutely studying the anatomy in the middle of the exhibit and feeling almost blase by the end.

Absolutely fascinating.


A few notes: if you are viewing Body Worlds, you are viewing the work of Gunther von Hagens.

  • He is the inventor of plastination, a process invented in 1977 and continuously refined. All bodies were donated by their owners. A few early specimens were obtained from old museum exhibits that were being liquidated (organs, bones, fetuses)
  • No money exchanges hands to the donors who give their bodies for plastination. The donors are responsible for arranging their bodies’ transportation to specific facilities. The only purchasers of plastinates are (1) medical schools/universities, (2) museums and the actual Body Worlds exhibits.
  • When the plastinates are purchased, it is noted clearly on the document that no money is changing hands for the body, but solely to cover the costs of the plastination process.

There are similar exhibits that use bodies obtained in other ways and make no bones about it (no pun intended). I have no ethical issues with this exhibition or with the plastination process.


Some call this exploitation. We see real human skeletons all the time. That is not exploitation, so what changes when the ligaments, muscles and tendons remain?

Why is it exploitation to add the viscera so that we can see the three-dimensional placement in the body? Putting colored polymers through the vessels so we can see the lacy circulatory system, is that exploitation?

Posing the plastinated bodies in living poses so that we can visualize the muscles at work and marvel at life instead of recoiling at death. Exploitation? Not to me.


Why should the human anatomy be relegated to the “anatomic position”, preserved in formadehyde and available only to doctors, nurses and other students of biology?

This visitor to the exhibit, who also happens to be a nurse left Body Worlds 3 with an appreciation of life, deep thankfulness for those who donated their bodies to educate the masses and a better understanding of anatomy that will impact my assessments and my patient teaching.

It is science and by its beauty it’s science that becomes art.

The best investment of two hours I’ve ever made.


Body Worlds 2 is coming to San Jose in September. I’m going and I’m taking as many people as I can with me.

If you get the chance to see any of the Body Worlds exhibits, take advantage of it.

You will be blown away.

See what the Psalmist writer meant when he wrote that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made”!

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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